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Power and the Space of the Planet

Fri, Apr 15, 2016    2pm

Spanning the planet, the dynamics of climate change bind together innumerable, often incompatible categories, things, and processes. Among these are energy infrastructures, politics, nature, biological and social life, and the built and unbuilt environment. The struggles and contradictions they entail, and the powers they sustain, impose limits on our capacity to grasp their connections and to conceive alternatives. This event, which brings together contributors from comparably disparate domains, will explore some of those connections imaginatively and concretely, in the past, present, and possible future. It inaugurates the Buell Center’s new, long-term research project, “Power,” which extends the Center’s recent work on housing, inequality, and real estate into another dimension of the planetary commons. Where the earlier research began with an analysis of land ownership and its relation to housing and the public sphere, “Power” begins with the air circulating above that land, the energy coursing through it, and the earth below it, all in relation to the lives lived within it.

Plenary 2:15pm “When It Changed: Bodies, Cities, and Worlds in Science Fiction, circa 1984” Phillip Wegner

Phillip Wegner is the Marston-Milbauer Eminent Scholar at the University of Florida. He is the author of Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity (2002); Life Between Two Deaths: U.S. Culture, 1989–2001 (2009); Periodizing Jameson: Dialectics, the University, and the Desire for Narrative (2014); and Shockwaves of Possibility: Essays on Science Fiction, Globalization, and Utopia (2014); and the editor of a new edition of Robert C. Elliott’s The Shape of Utopia (1970; 2013)

Panel and Discussion 3:30-5:00pm Edward Eigen “Power of the Pardon: Evel Knievel, Robert Smithson, and the Landscape of Reclamation, circa 1974”

Ed Eigen is an Associate Professor of the History of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His work focuses on the intersection of the human and natural sciences in the long nineteenth century. His recent publications include a study of The High Line’s electromagnetic bandwidth.

Jeanne Haffner “Dwelling on Power: From the Garden Cities to the Nuclear Age”

Jeanne Haffner’s work explores the physical, intellectual, and technological aspects of urban transformation in Europe and the United States, both historical and contemporary. She is the inaugural Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Urban Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard) and author of The View from Above: The Science of Social Space (MIT Press, 2013). Her writings have been published in The Guardian, the BBC, and Next City, among other magazines. Before joining Dumbarton Oaks, she taught in the Harvard University Department of the History of Science and the Urban Studies Program at Brown University.

Paige West “Town, Island, Ples: Structure(s) of Feeling in the SocioEcological Now”

Paige West is an anthropologist who writes about the intertwining of indigenous epistemic practices and European epistemic practices. She has conducted research in Papua New Guinea for the last twenty years. Her books include, Dispossession and the Environment: Rhetoric and Inequality in Papua New Guinea (Columbia, 2016), From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea (Duke, 2012), and Conservation is our Government Now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea (Duke 2006). She is the co-founder of the Papua New Guinea Institute for Biological Research and The Rovian Salwara Skul.

Reception 5:15pm

Keynote Address 6:00pm
“Utopia Against Finance”

Kim Stanley Robinson is a New York Times bestselling science fiction writer whose work has been translated into twenty-five languages. He is the author of the Mars trilogy—an international bestseller currently being turned into a TV series, as well as of Aurora, Shaman, 2312, Galileo’s Dream, and Green Earth, among many others. Robinson is the winner of numerous prestigious prizes in the field, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards, and currently serves on the board of the Sierra Nevada Research Association.

with response by Phillip Wegner and discussion moderated by Reinhold Martin, Director, Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture